‘World War Z’, was a movie beset with problems from the get go. Despite Brad Pitt beating fellow acting royalty, Leonardo Di Caprio to the role of UN investigator Gerry Lane and the rights to the movie of the successful and loved book, which I have read, the origins for this film were pretty much created from scratch. The underlying theme of Lane traversing the world as he attempts to find out what caused the zombie outbreak that is decimating the world stays, but that’s about it. Lane’s given a family to bind him to the role, the action is bulked up and actually takes place DURING the ongoing outbreak, rather than afterwards as in the book.
Then came the re-writes. The storyline was deemed to be ‘too depressing’ by distributor Paramount Pictures, so the release date was shifted from Xmas 2012 to it’s current summer blockbuster release. Re-shooting was done and the script re-written, partially by Damon Lindelof (he of ‘Prometheus’ and ‘Lost’ fame), before Drew Goddard (‘Cabin in the Woods’)was drafted in to add the finishing touches.
The result is a film that has its enjoyable moments for sure. There is feasible tension created, and whilst it’s not anyway near scary, that sure is something from a big, loud blockbuster, which this is almost the alternative. But a lot of it feels disjointed, characters like Matthew Fox (another ‘Lost’ alumni), were supposed to star but are restricted to a couple of blink and you’ll miss it cameos. Characters chop and change (more of which later), with Brad Pitt remaining the only constant. There are also long sections without combat, which in a zombie movie is incredible. It did get a little bit boring at times, but not enough for me to totally switch off. Scenes like the zombie ‘pyramid’, below, were amazing, and much better than the laughable trailers, which featured a CGI-overload of zombies.
On the whole, the zombies are CGI, and due to their ability to sprint, you don’t have time to study them and critique the look the filmmakers have gone for, but in the film’s climatic set-piece, they are played by human actors, and the increase in tension and horror is significant. Before the film’s release the zombies were defended, as if they were all played by humans, then they’d be accused of copying the successful TV series, ‘The Walking Dead’, but the fact is, if success if going to be achieved, any sequel would have to feature majority human actors as the zombies, not just one small section of the film.
Ah yes that dreaded word, sequel. ‘WWZ2′, was almost immediately green-lit after the surprisingly good box-office takings, and the end of the film is bogged down by a set-up for part two, disappointing considering we could’ve had a bit of extra time and a definitive ending. A zombie franchise isn’t the end of the world (I’d much rather have ‘WWZ2′, than ‘Transformers 4′), but more originality in the crowded summer market would be nice too!
More positives for me personally was the diversity of the film. The action may have began and ended on North American soil, but we took in South Korea, Israel and even Wales on this globe-hopping journey, and the cast was as diverse as any other blockbuster in living memory. Daniella Kertesz, an Israeli actress unknown to Western audiences, as Pitt’s main ‘sidekick’, and highlighted that other than major draw Pitt, there were no other faces known to mainstream audiences, again a risk, but one that has paid off given its initial success. Plus we even get Peter Capaldi, known to Brits for his incredibly sweary role as Malcolm Tucker in cult political comedy hit, ‘The Thick of It’, and what a surprise it was to see him turn up!
I suppose director Marc Forster, deserves credit for attempting to diverse the landscape with different ethnicities, genders and landscapes, and fair play, for the most part he pulls it off. Sure it could’ve been more cohesive, but given the issues that plagued (geddit) it, since its inception, the end result isn’t perfect but about as good as it could get.